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Book Chapters

Guiltless Chapter 6: The Metro

Jan , 12

Devino rode an elevator down to the sole platform at the GWU Station and scanned the crowd for Ryan Chow.

A ‘BOLO’ had been issued to patrol officers operating at all Metro stations, alerting them of the possible flight risk.

They’d scanned the upper level and mezzanine. It was time to extend their search downwards. Uniformed officers manned the six escalators and two elevators as Rick Dixon preened information from a station agent.

Sam Raker, who reached the station first, was nowhere to be found.

The platform stretched out to either side of him, spanned by a concrete ceiling with distinctive ‘waffle vault’ coffers. It was an intimidating structure, which did little to quell the rising sense of foreboding in his gut. Traffic was light this morning, roughly fifty people peppered the lower level, awaiting the next pair of trains.

Two tracks flanked the platform, linking the station to Rosslyn and Farragut West. Two exit points; that narrowed the search, slightly. But the thought of a gun going off in such closeted conditions was frightening.

His radio crackled in his left hand. He raised it to his lips.

‘Devino here, I need an update on Chow’s location. Is he here?’

‘Yup, he’s here alright’ replied Dixon via radio. ‘He scanned his SmarTrip about four minutes before we came in. Lucky he registered it right?’

‘That’s not the only thing we got lucky on’ said Devino.

Trains docked roughly every 12 minutes on a Saturday. Based on the time-stamps from the ATM and SmarTrip scanner, Ryan  missed the last train and had to be somewhere in the station. On a weekday AM rush trains ran six minutes apart. They’d have missed him on a Monday.

‘What’s he wearing?’ inquired Devino.

‘A black leather jacket; light shirt, possibly blue, dark tie’ said Dixon.

‘Got it. I’ll keep a lookout’ said Devino.

The gray-scale images from the ATM’s closed-circuit television had masked whatever colours Ryan had on, but Devino was willing to keep an open mind. His eyes swept the platform once more, then he saw it.

A flash of black leather. He blinked, fingers throbbing as adrenaline race through them; his senses sharp with anticipation.  A leather jacket, it’s wearer shuffled uncomfortably beneath the mezzanine, hidden from the searching eyes of the uniformed officers above. A man, Devino decided, judging by the shoulders and hips . A black trilby, pulled over his face masked his features. The figure gripped a large navy blue backpack in one hand as he rocked nervously on the balls of his feet. He wore a  cream cotton shirt beneath his jacket, no tie. He could be just another commuter heading out of town on a weekend getaway.

‘Hey Rick, I’ve got a possible visual on our suspect’ said Devino to his radio. ‘The man in question is wearing a black hat and leather jacket, no tie.’

‘Negative on the visual Scott. Chow’s face was clearly visible on the camera footage, no hat’ came the reply.

‘It could be a ploy to throw us off’ said Devino.

‘Gotcha, check it out’ said Dixon.

Devino forced himself to pause and consider his options. Confronting the young man would draw unnecessary attention to himself.

The question was how close did Ryan think his pursuers were? Had he seen them? Did he have a plan? Would he take a hostage?

It was all speculation, of course. But he hadn’t made Detective grade by being careless. He knew he had a window of three minutes.

The ground trembled under his feet as the train approached. A woman’s voice rang through the public address system; announcing the arrival of the next train to Farragut West.

Things would get even messier the moment those doors opened. It was now or never.

The man moved. The hat raised a fraction of an inch, revealing a pale face taut with worry. And a heavily bruised jaw, a sickly purple. Devino remembered Shawn Savvy’s account of the previous night’s events.

Thank you Maurice Phelps.

Devino holstered his radio, then whipped out his gun and badge.

‘Ryan Chow! Police!’

The figure leaped, the backpack slipped out of his hand and crashed to the ground. The right hand leaped out of its pocket-

Someone screamed, then Devino was surrounded by a whirl of movement as he stared down the barrel of Ryan’s revolver.

‘Drop the gun Ryan!’

‘You’ve got the wrong guy. I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it!’

‘If you move I shoot. It’s that simple Ryan. You’re not getting on that train.’

‘I don’t remember anything from last night. I woke up this morning-‘

‘Tell us about it at the station’ said a third voice to Devino’s left.

He jumped and shifted his gaze. Sam Raker was standing beside him, armed with only a cigarette and lighter. Devino hadn’t heard him approach. Raker had a knack for sneaking up on cops and criminals alike; slipping into their blindspots. Who knew how long he’d been standing there?

And now, in the face of a pointed gun, the enigmatic Detective felt the urge to have a smoke. The guy was so creepy. Raker lit the cigarette in a smooth, practiced motion. He extinguished the lighter’s flame and puffed.

‘Ryan Chow’ he said slowly. ‘You’re in enough trouble already. Put the gun down and we can take your statement. Understand that the moment you pull that trigger everything changes. Don’t give me more paperwork than I have already.’

No fucks given, as always’ thought Devino.

A violent tremble seized Ryan at Raker’s words. Several moments of indecision passed.

And then Raker cursed softly, under his breath.

Devino barely had time to register the words before someone, something, slammed into him with the force of a freight train and knocked him clean off his feet. A gunshot rang out. He heard screams. His mind drew a blank as he seemed to hover over the ground in suspended free fall. Had he been shot? He felt no pain but that could be due to the fleeting invincibility of adrenalin pumping through his veins. His eyes processed the scene unfolding before him.

It was absurd. Raker charged full tilt at Ryan; lightening quick feet covering five yards before his falling comrade had even hit the floor.

Devino saw the conflicting emotions of understanding and incredulity on Ryan’s face as he swerved the revolver towards his would be assailant.

Raker dipped a shoulder, leaning to the right, and then-

Another shot rang out as Devino crashed to the ground. He squeezed his eyes shut on impact and heard a sickening crunch somewhere above and beyond him. Then the unmistakeable sound of a gun clattering to the ground. People screaming, running, stampeding…

He imagined Ryan Chow dropping the gun, surveying his handwork. He feared the worst. He still felt no pain, save for his bruised right shoulder and sore left torso where Raker had hit him. He pushed himself to his feet, he opened his eyes, dreading what he was about to see.

Then again his sight betrayed reason.

Sam Raker stood fifteen yards away, alive, tall and thin. His eyes remained obscured by his pitch black shades as he stared down at Ryan Chow in what Devino thought was a mixture of mild annoyance and curiosity. The young man lay on his back, seemingly unconscious and unmoving. The revolver lay even further away, and Devino understood it must have flown in a high arc when Raker tackled Ryan.

Devino walked gingerly towards his partner, who showed no acknowledgement of his approach other than speaking once within earshot.

‘I hit the moron harder than I intended to. He’ll be conscious shortly’ said Raker.

Devino barely registered the words as his mind reeled from the inexplicable sequence of events.

‘Where were you?! And what was that just now?!’ he demanded.

His partner flicked ash off his smouldering cigarette and nudged Ryan with his shoe.

‘Hardly the words of a grateful man’ said Raker. ‘ I just saved your life. Don’t be an idiot.’

The words stung a little but Devino was still too shaken to care. He tried to replay everything in his mind, but it didn’t make sense. Perhaps he’d been hit harder than intended.

‘Are you hit?’ he asked finally.

Raker seemed to consider the question as he took a long drag of nicotine. Devino watched the burning embers on the tip of the cigarette burn up an inch of tobacco and delicate paper.

‘He’s a lousy shot.’

‘You charged at an armed man?! You’re crazy! Have you got a death wish or something?!’

‘I’m still alive, aren’t I? And so is he. He’s waking up, you can do the honours.’

Ryan groaned, as though on cue. Devino searched the leather jacket and found the tie; a clip-on. Satisfied he flipped Ryan over and slapped hand cuffs, reciting the Miranda rights. Those infamous words, dreaded by criminals, tasted particularly sweet today.

‘Ryan Chow, you are under arrest for the murder of Jazmin Garretts and the assault of a police officer, You have the right to remain silent-‘

‘GET THE FUCK OFF ME!’  yelled Ryan at the top of his lungs.

‘Anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law-‘

‘I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING!’

‘You have the right to an attorney-‘

‘I’M INNOCENT!’

‘If you can’t afford it, one will be appointed to you.’

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